Peace of mind is found only in the Christian who has learned to trust in God. God keeps only “him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because He trusteth in Thee’’ (Isa. 26:3).
When we confess sinfulness, turn from our sins, and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then we have “peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ’’ (Rom. 5:1).
God desires His children to have this perfect peace, for He knows the necessity of it for our well-being. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. …” We often fail to avail ourselves of this gracious gift, letting our hearts be troubled and afraid (John 14:27).
The three greatest enemies of peace are envy, fear, and guilt.
- Envy is “the rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30). It, along with covetousness and jealousy eat up ones insides. Envy comes from a failure to put first things first. Envy is caused by placing too much importance on material possessions, prestige, or position. There can be no peace in the mind of those who constantly scheme and plan to acquire the next thing.
- A chronic fear can be very harmful, sometimes even producing physical illness. This can be anything from a vague uneasiness to a great anxiety. This can be a fear which is either real or imaginary. It can be a fear of powers greater than we or a fear of losing something which contributes to our safety or comfort or general well-being. In any case, this tormenting kind of fear is the result of our failure to trust God, to take Him at His Word, or to claim His promises. “Whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).
- God sent Jesus to take upon Himself the guilt for our sins, to satisfy God’s just demands for our every sin, and thus to remove all of our guilt. But at various times and to varying degrees some Christians fail to understand Christ’s perfect work and all its precious implications.
Sometimes we suffer from the guilt of sins of the past. We fail to understand that God has removed our sins from us as far as east is from west, that He has cast them into the sea of utter forgetfulness (Ps. 103:12). This lack of faith in the perfect work of God in Christ is sinful and a drain on our emotional strength. We must ask God to forgive our refusal to receive the reality of His mercy and grace. And we must prayerfully resolve to look at our sins in the light of Christ’s cross.
More often our guilt is caused by unrepented sin. This results in troubled minds and a “guilt complex”. Adam was afraid and hid after he sinned. Unconfessed sin can often make us afraid of what is really our own imagination (Prov. 28:1). The result is a lack of peace.
What is the answer to these three enemies of true peace?
God works in us a wonderful cleansing of these terrible foes of peace. He does this in the way of the admission of our sinfulness and the dependency which results, the confession to God of specific sins, and the looking to and trusting in the power of the redeeming blood of Christ. Also the desire for and the striving after obedience to God’s commands always accompanies true sorrow. “Great peace have they which love Thy law’’; “mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Ps. 119:165; 37:37).
This is the only way the guilt- troubled mind, the fearful and the envious find rest.
This solution is simple, but it is not easy. It is not complicated, but it is difficult for our flesh. Worrying is so much easier than trusting in God. This solution is made difficult by the fact that we are entrenched in the mind-set of envy or guilt or fear, and we are only released from them slowly.
We may be confessing our sinfulness and repenting of specific sins, but still failing to trust God for ALL our needs. If we are anxious and care-filled and full of fears, we simply have not learned to trust God, for “whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). It is so easy to trust in ourselves, our family, friends, doctors, homes, jobs – anything we can see or feel. The only thing we can really find to be a solid rock for our trust is the
One Whose promises are sure.
What is the way in which God gives us peace of mind?
Man’s mind is a wonderful creation. It is wise if we remember that it is always functioning. If we, as redeemed believers, do not prayerfully discipline ourselves in habits of wholesome thinking, it is our nature to become the victims of undesirable thought patterns. These latter most often produce negative attitudes. These negative attitudes can adversely affect the quality of our judgments and activities, and if they are severe enough, they can even make one physically and emotionally ill. By the grace of God Christians can effectively control their thoughts. In general this is done by closing out negative, suspicious, envious, jealous, pessimistic, self-glorifying, impure, foolish, and anxious thoughts.
Allow me to give some suggestions, based on either commands or thoughts given in the Scriptures. One or more of these suggestions can be applied to almost any situation which is causing problems in our thinking. If consistently exercised, these suggestions can be very helpful in restoring peace of mind.
- Taking no thought.
There are some things over which we have no control. Sometimes we can do a lot of worrying about them. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matt. 6:27). Such anxious thinking is a foolish waste of mental energy and is a drain on our spiritual strength. Learn to know what things you cannot change.
- Controlling the imagination.
God gave us the imagination as a wonderful tool to help us be more creative and useful. However, we do some of our most outstanding worrying when we allow our imagination to run wild, creating frightening possibilities. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5). It is true that we cannot keep certain thoughts from entering into our minds, but we do not need to entertain them. Because we are able to “do all things through Christ which strengthened” us, we can control and direct our imaginations. It is not to be our master; God is!
- Thinking positively.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul lists six things upon which we are commanded to think, i.e. meditate: whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report. Thinking upon these positive things is a great antidote for the suspicious, critical, jealous, or impure thoughts which so quickly undermine peace of mind. Also, while thinking on these things, the peace- removing thoughts will find little room to dwell in our minds.
A critical, complaining, negative, and pessimistic spirit fills the vacuum left by a lack of thankfulness. Quickly a mind-set of negative thinking develops and makes itself at home. Confess this sin of self-centeredness and pour praise and thanks to God. Think of all the aspects of God’s work in Jesus Christ and be filled with praise (Rev. 5:9-14).
Satan can plague us with regrets of the past, causing us to dwell unduly upon them. This weakens us in our present duties. The apostle Paul knew that his apostleship had many weaknesses, but he said, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind. . . .” It is commendable to learn from past mistakes. It is useless and unhealthy to grieve endlessly over them.
Read Psalm 103 and make a list of the things for which you should be thankful. Remembering this list, cultivate an attitude of anticipation of blessings from the Lord. Have no expectations from anyone else! We may and should expect God to bless us, for He has promised that He will and He does abundantly (Eph. 5:20). This attitude assumes that God will bless, though we might not know exactly how.
- Refuging in comforts.
Jesus did not leave His Church comfortless, but sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. Also God gives an uncountable number of promises in the Scriptures which serve to comfort His people. When we dwell upon the “God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3) and upon all He has done for us spiritually and physically, then our minds should not only be at ease, but also filled with joy.
It is almost impossible for even the most mature Christian to be completely free from anxious thoughts, especially during times of trials. When decisions must be made, then it is necessary to have thoughts about our problems. But God would not have His people sink into hopelessness and frustration due to great anxiety. Trusting Him as the Almighty, all-wise, and eternally loving Savior, we can claim the peace which only He can give.
God promises His peace, which passeth all understanding. Ask for God to fulfill that promise in the way of your being careful for nothing and your laying all your needs at His feet.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3,4).